ATLANTA -- Plenty went against the Fort Valley State womens basketball team Wednesday against Tuskegee.
But Wildcats were still have to survive and move on in the SIAC tournament.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats survived a second-half barrage by Tuskegee, multiple turnovers and a key injury to edge the top-seeded Tigers on a buzzer beater 73-71.
Guard Jayme Gilbert, who pulled up with an injury with 3:52 left in the contest, returned just in time to lift her squad to victory. The sophomore beat the defender off the dribble at the top of the key and coasted through lane with the game-winning layup as time expired.
Ive been thinking about this game since (Tuesday) morning, Gilbert said. This was a team win. I thought (head coach Lonnie Bartley) was going to call a timeout, but he didnt. I said, He trusts me, so I have to do something good. I know my speed, so I shook her off and drove to the goal.
Gilbert once again posted a game-high in scoring, pouring in 21 points. She also recorded five assists and four steals.
Although FVSU shot poorly from the field in the first half (29 percent), it did just enough lead 35-29 at the break.
In the second half, Tuskegee switched up its philosophy on offense, feeding the ball inside to post players Marie McAbee and Nnenna Eze. The 5-foot-8 McAbee and 6-0 Eze pounded their way to 19 and 17 points, respectively. But while Tuskegee had a size advantage, it wasnt able to knock down its free throws, going 10-of-22 at the line.
Having already dug itself in a hole, it appeared as if all hope was lost when Gilbert was sidelined with a leg cramp. But the Wildcats went on a 9-4 run with their star ailing on the bench.
Weve endured a lot to get us ready for this stage. Jayme is a special person, and God looks out for her, and big things happen for you when youre one of the Lords children, Bartley said. This win ranks up there with some of the big ones in my career. Tuskegee has become a rival. I love the completion, and I dont steer away from it.